Monday, 6 July 2009

Time for the trial to begin

Wiggo has to be pleased with that. Not that he will be, after all he is a winner, but it's a far cry from the Levens time trial course he rode a few weeks ago, and was then promptly DQ-ed for riding with a non-regulation front wheel. Needless to say there were many non-reg wheels used in Monaco and the speed they were traveling at, well it would be enough to make the District Committee wince. 

For the riders, time trials are a pretty boring start to a Tour. They had been in Monaco for four ludicrously hot days, just waiting. Playstation and internet connections seem to be the topic of conversation over breakfast. The course has to be ridden twice, thrice or even seventeen times a day. Pro cyclists have a great job in some respects, but the waiting must be very dull and the distracting bit is dealing with presentations, dinners and photo calls, then there's mixing with the sponsors, public and, needless to say, journalists. No surprise that all they want to do is go for a ride.

Walking around bits of the circuit you could see that the crowd and the parcours were perfect for the start of this year's Tour – it was challenging and technical and certainly (as David Millar discovered) a chance to try out the brakes. Of the result? Well Cancellara was nailed-on favourite and Bradley Wiggins showed his form is improving (I'm still way more impressed with his 25th at Paris–Roubaix though).

Monaco didn't really seem to be that bothered about the Tour, it was business as usual for the hotels and shops, shame really. It's a very big occasion for most of  France and many towns would give everything to stage the Depart, Monaco seems to hardly need the attention. The racing pedigree of this rather bizarre place is evident on every corner, Armco and tarmac etched with the rubber and skid marks of a slightly faster breed of racers with their own strange mix of regulations. More later on the first stage, and stage two, in France proper. Cavendish won't threaten for Yellow this year, but Manx Mario is off to a flyer.

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